Friday, September 29, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The first generation has the gospel, the second generation assumes the gospel, and the third generation loses the Gospel" (D.A. Carson).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Great Divide? Faithfulness versus Relevance

Here's what Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, R. Albert Mohler, and C. J. Mahaney have to say in a series of mini-articles. There is great wisdom here!
The Greatest Danger Facing the Church

What is the greatest danger facing the church? Jim Hamilton explains in this article.
A Review of Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now

See this interesting review of Joel Osteen's book Your Best Life Now by Greg Gilbert. Greg starts his review by saying "Someone might legitimately raise the question why we are reviewing this book. After all, the pattern here at 9Marks has been that we review Christian books. I suppose we must be branching out now, because Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now is decidedly not one of those. Open the book to any random page, and you will likely find some mention of God or even a reference to Scripture. Yet that is just window-dressing. When you wring the book out, what you end up with is nothing more than the soggy old self-help pop-psychology that people have been lapping up for a generation—with the word "God" thrown in every once in a while for good measure." Interesting reading! See the full review article here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

At Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Youth Conference

As some of you may know, I have been organizing a practical conference called At Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Youth. For more information see here. I would ask for your prayers: that God most of all would be glorified, that many people would come out to be equipped and inspired to pour their lives into being spiritual mentors, fathers or mothers in Christ, to hurting youth in the greater Toronto area and beyond, that this would have a grass roots impact in bringing deep transformation to the hurting neighbourhoods of Toronto, and that violence would cease and true community would result. May God do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Memorize Scripture by Listening to Music

Mark Altrogge has come up with a website called Scripture memory songs. The songs are the exact words from specific Scripture verses, and he is an excellent musician. These CDs are part of Sovereign Grace Music's Hide the Word series, which now has over 120 Bible passages set to song.

Thanks to JT.
The Problem of Preaching to Felt Needs

by Al Mohler

The idea that preaching should be addressed to the self-perceived "needs" of the congregation is now well ingrained in the larger evangelical culture. The argument behind this is almost always missiological -- just preach to the needs people already feel and then you can point them to a deep need and God's provision of the Gospel.

There are several basic flaws with this approach. In the first place, our "needs" are hopelessly confused -- even hidden from us. As a matter of fact, the knowledge of our deepest needs is a secret even to ourselves until we receive that knowledge by the work of the Holy Spirit and the gift of Scripture. This is God's mercy -- that we should come to discover our most basic need.

Second, our perceived or felt needs almost always turn out to be something other than needs -- at least in any serious sense. We have wants and desires and concerns, but most of these are not genuine needs that lead to desperation -- the kind of needs that remind us constantly that we lack all self-sufficiency. To the contrary, most of us feel quite self-sufficient. Thus, the needs we feel are the "needs" characteristic of apathetic affluence, romantic aspirations, and spiritual emptiness.

Third, preachers who believe they can move the attention of individuals from their "felt" needs to their need for the Gospel will find, inevitably, that the distance between the individual and the Gospel has not been reduced by attention to lesser needs. The sinner's need for Christ is a need unlike all other needs -- and the satisfaction of having other needs stroked and affirmed is often a hindrance to the sinner's understanding of the Gospel.

William H. Willimon, bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, spoke to the futility of felt needs preaching in a recent interview in Leadership [interview not available online]. His words are worth notice:

Jesus doesn't meet our needs; he rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs, and he gives me needs I would've never had if I hadn't met Jesus. He reorders them.

I used to ask seminarians, "Why are you in seminary?" They'd say, "I like meeting people's needs." And I'd say, "Whoa. Really? If you try that with the people I know, they'll eat you alive."

Now, if you're a pastor in Honduras, it might be okay to define your ministry as meeting needs, because more people in Honduras have interesting biblical needs – food, clothing, housing. But most people in the churches I know get those needs met without prayer. So they've moved on to "needs" like orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life, and stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in.

Those are strong words -- and words we all need to hear.

Thanks to JT.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where did the "Pew" Come From?

Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church, has an interesting post on the history of the "pew."
Books Every Seminary Graduate Should Have Read

Jim Hamilton states here what essential books should have been read before entering full time ministry.

Thanks to JT.
The False Teaching of Joyce Meyer and the Cult of Christian Celebrities

Joyce Meyer believes that she is no longer a sinner:

"I'm going to tell you something folks, I didn't stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head I wasn't a sinner anymore. And the religious world thinks that's heresy and they want to hang you for it. But the Bible says that I'm righteous and I can't be righteous and be a sinner at the same time. All I was ever taught to say was, 'I'm a poor, miserable sinner.' I am not poor, I am not miserable and I am not a sinner. That is a lie from the pit of hell. That is what I was and if I still am then Jesus died in vain. Amen?" (Joyce Meyer, What Happened From the Cross to the Throne?, emphasis mine).

Writing to Christians the apostle John says: " If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:9). Paul, writing to Timothy, says this about himself: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

According to Mark Moore Joyce Meyer also believes "that Jesus was pronounced guilty on the cross, but did not pay for sin until he went to hell." Mark Moore responds by saying this: "Maybe someone should have told the thief on the cross that he was not really going to be in paradise with Jesus on that day because Jesus was, once again, confused; Jesus had to go to hell for a few days to pay for the thief’s sin, he’ll have to catch up with him later."

Mark Moore concludes his article by saying:

"Why sarcasm? Why sadness? Because it is not John, Paul, or Jesus who needs to be corrected—it is the church. Specifically it is pastors. Pastors who are weak and afraid. Pastors who are people pleasers and ear ticklers. Pastors who don’t declare the absolute authority of Scripture. Pastors who don’t lead their churches because they are being led by their churches. Pastors who don’t want to offend the women in their churches by telling them to stop wasting their time in long lines at bookstores to secure the autographs of Christian celebrities who are more busy flying around on their private jets than studying to show themselves approved being workman who need not be ashamed because they have rightly handled the Scriptures.

The sad state of the church is that we are a cult of personalities rather than followers of the second person of the Trinity. Maybe its because one of those personalities doesn’t even believe in the Trinity. Maybe its because those of us that do don’t call those of them that don’t what the Church has always called them—heretics."

Yes, it is sad indeed. May the evangelical church become more like the Bereans, testing everything by the Scriptures: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11). May the evangelical church also believe that the Scriptures are sufficient, and that God can meet us where we are without "celebrity priests." Amen.

Thanks to Mark Moore for the article and JT for the heads up.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Give Me Doctrine or Give Me Death

Greg Gilbert discusses the importance of doctrine in light of the current trend to see doctrine as "a hold-over from the Middle Ages, or from the sixteenth century at best," that "Christianity is more beautiful, more compelling, if we don’t try to clarify it and define it," and "To insist on this doctrine or that set of propositions is stultifying and restrictive." "Give Me Doctrine or Give Me Death" is interesting reading.